Chapter 1 : Godric Gryffindor
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She’d been walking for miles, her legs almost seizing up completely. She was gasping, her lungs stinging and heaving in protest as she practically dragged herself up the hill. It was early winter in Scotland and the chances that she’d caught pneumonia after her many hours of walking through the rain in search of help were high. She could almost feel the cold eating away at her lungs from the inside, as though ice was cascading into her every time she breathed. She could no longer feel her toes and for all the good her clothes were going to keep her warm, she might as well have not been wearing them.
She knew she would not live to see the morning but she was determined to name her baby before she died. She’d tried to wrap herself up in as many layers of clothes as she could to protect her unborn child but every inch of her body was now wet and freezing.
She made one last struggle up to the door to the peasants’ quarters around the side of the castle, feeling an uncomfortable twinge in her stomach. She was now bent double, hardly able to stand. There were no lights on but Rona was determined to get inside. She banged on the door with her numb fists, feeling tears leaking down her face as she waited.
“Please, someone…anyone,” she whispered, her voice raspy from the cold.
After another minute of hammering on the door a lantern flickered to life, which Rona could see shining through a crack in the aged wood of the door. She waited with bated breath as she heard the irritable voice of an old woman from within the quarters, wonderful relief washing over her and making her feel a little warmer on the inside, despite the weather.
“Oh, who would come all the way up here in a storm like this?” Rona heard the woman asking herself as she unbolted the door. “Utterly ridiculous - it’s three in the morning!”
Rona squinted up into the light as the door was pulled open, having collapsed on the floor in the doorway. An elderly woman with wispy white hair and spectacles answered the door. She was in her night gown, a shawl wrapped around her shoulders, looking rather disgruntled at being woken up so abruptly. She was carrying a lantern and as she held it out she gasped, the light illuminating Rona's pitiful form.
“Martha! MARTHA!” The woman called, popping her head back inside the room beyond the door. “Get here girl, hurry!”
Rona watched, her breath coming in sharp gasps, as a young woman, no older than her and in about her early twenties, rushed over.
“What is it?” She asked in a strong cockney accent. “Blimey!” She said, seeing Rona on the doorstep.
“Don’t just stand there gawping girl!” The old woman snapped. “Help me bring her inside!”
Martha grabbed Rona under the arms whilst the old woman grabbed her legs and together they carried her inside, laying her down on a bed in a room just off the first one they entered. Rona could not see much of the room, as the pain was almost blinding her now.
“What’s wrong wiv’ her then, Mavis?” Martha asked conversationally, staring at Rona as she struggled to breathe evenly.
“She’s about to give birth, you silly girl!” Mavis replied. “Fetch me some warm water and some cloth. We may be in for a long night.”
As Martha rushed away Mavis laid a wrinkled hand soothingly on Rona’s head, the touch of it comforting her somewhat. She looked into Rona’s eyes, a pitying expression on her face.
“You poor thing,” she muttered quietly, stroking back her hair. “Where have you come from?” She looked irritably around for Martha and then turned back to Rona, her motherly expression returning. “Not to worry, dear. You’re safe now.”
It was indeed a long night. Mavis and Martha stayed with Rona throughout the birth of her child, urging her on encouragingly even though she had bearly any strength remaining. Almost three hours later, close to dawn, a baby boy was born into the world, his golden mass of hair like a ray of hope in Rona’s eyes. There was so much innocence in those gleaming blue eyes. Whilst Rona was left holding her baby, her vision slipping in and out of focus, Mavis and Martha stood just outside the doorway of the room.
“Poor lamb,” Mavis said sympathetically. “I wish I knew where she’d come from.”
“Eh, she looks pretty rich. Maybe she’s from a well-off family.”
“Don’t be silly, girl!” Mavis snapped. “What would she be doing out here unescorted at that time of night!”
“But her clothes, Mavis - her clothes are so…grand!” Martha exclaimed, looking envious.
“Yes, that’s what puzzles me,” Mavis said thoughtfully. “But we’ll never know. That poor girl won’t live to see her child become a man. She’s so young, too. I fear she’ll barely make it another hour. We must make her as comfortable as we can. Yes, what is it dear?” She asked quickly, as Rona had just made a sound of distress. “Aren’t you comfortable? Do you want some water?”
“N…no,” Rona managed to murmur, her throat stinging in protest. “M…my baby,” she said, feeling her heart slowing and finding it very hard to breathe.
“Yes dear. What about him? We’ll take good care of him for you, I swear it.”
“No…not that,” she gasped.
“Then what is it dear? Take your time…”
“I know I’m going to die any moment,” she managed to utter. “I just wanted to name…my baby… before…before…”
“It’s alright, dear,” Mavis said, a lump forming in her throat as she watched the tears leak down Rona’s rain-washed face. “You just take your time now.”
“I want to call him…Godric,” she said quietly. “Godric Gryffindor.”
“Very well, my dear,” Mavis breathed, watching the life drain from the poor girl.
“I…” Mavis looked up as she tried to speak again. “I love you, son.” She kissed her baby on the head and took one last shuddering gasp before becoming still and silent, her face as pale as snow.
“Is she…is she…?” Martha hesitated.
“Dead? Yes,” Mavis replied, sniffing loudly. “But she managed to name the little one before she…”
“Whasse called?” She asked eagerly.
“Godric Gryffindor,” Mavis said quietly, staring into the baby’s little face. He was sleeping at the moment, at peace but blissfully unaware that he’d never know his family.
“Tha’s a funny name!” Martha remarked, looking puzzled.
“Well, it’s what she wanted to call him. She told me with her last breath. We must respect her wishes.” She stared into Rona’s pale face, at her blue lips, closed eyes and her beautiful golden locks of hair, which were dirty with the rain. “I didn’t even know her name.”
Silence followed as the storm slowly subsided and Godric fidgeted a little as he slept.
“It’s a miracle this little one lived,” Mavis smiled, stroking Godric’s fair hair.
“So…what we gonna’ do wiv’ ‘im?” Martha asked quietly.
“We’ll look after him here until he is old enough to help out around the castle. When he’s old enough to do some work it’s up to Lord Scriever.” She glanced down at the baby’s angelic face again, who was still sleeping peacefully in his dead mother’s arms. “Godric…Godric Gryffindor…”
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